Sunday, January 29, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Bottle Share at Jester King Brewery

On Saturday, Melissa and I participated in a bottle share before the Jester King 1st Anniversary Party at their rather charming farmhouse brewery.  The way these things usually work -- at least with the small handful I've been to -- is that a small group of burly dorks bring a few rare bottles of beer to share with each other, as you sit around discussing shit that has fuck all to do with beer, but then also spend a few respectful minutes actually discussing anything relevant to the brew that makes one appear informed or palatially smart.  Since I can do neither of these cerabral-ish kind of things, I really like attending these to learn a thing or two, and get really fucking hammered on shit I can't get in this state.

However, this one was a bit different for me.  In the past, I've shared bottles with a few of the local micro-brewers around town at some sort of communal setting, like a food trailer park or wherever -- consisting of a maximum group of 5-10 people.  That allows for the aforementioned steadily-paced boozing while we leather the English language with expletives and dick jokes.

This one, however, was set up by the Beer Advocate guys from the Southwest region of the U.S.  Now, a couple of factors about this -- 1) the Beer Advocate website itself, is considered to be the nexus of beer nerds from across the world; 2) This tasting was being held as a precursor to a much anticipated and major beer event which is, like all the fucking rage in Austin at the moment -- Jester King Brewery's 1st Anny Party -- which had sold out well in advance of the event; 3) The Southwest region of this country has a tremendous dearth of renowned breweries who do not like to import into Texas for no reason other than the TABC sucks, and thus there is a constant scramble for interesting grabs from breweries hailing from major beer meccas like California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Wisconsin, and abroad; and 4) The cache of your contribution, according to these collection of beer nerds, is a reflection of the size of your beer wang.  And at these things, you kind of wear your cock on the outside of your pants.  And you also have to remember your dick jokes.

So, When you combine all of these factors into an hour of pre-party beer tasting, you get a frenzy of popping, grabbing, pouring, nomming, beard pulling and specs adjusting.  It was like a damn G8 summit of hopheads, complete with all the lather of dissonant Parisians banging the tables with sample glass soliciting.  That shit got cray.

Melissa and I brought our own portfolio to contribute -- a Jolly Pumpkin farmhouse Saison and a Bell's Two Hearted IPA that we'd had since our summertime Michigan trip.  We thought this would be an amicable offering to beer Jesus, and also appease the bros in a middling kind of way.  Nothing too screwy and nothing that we would miss or couldn't replace.  So we do the Trader Joe's 100% recycled material bag flop-out with our wares and get to boning some beers.

First up was ...

Guava Grove Saison | Cigar City Brewing | Tampa, FL

Did you know that Tampa is also knows as The Cigar City?  Nope.  Me either.  I don't know a damn thing about Tampa. Now did you know that Tampa is also known as the Big Guava, based on a satirical response to New York's pseudonym The Big Apple?  You can't know one without knowing the other, but I'm happy to report that I have been made aware of both because of this very awesome Saison that is fermented from pink guava puree.  I know exactly three things about Tampa now.  Probably two too many, but hey, I'm going to remember that I'm an idiot for waiting so long to try anything from Cigar City.

Despite being in guava's target demo, don't know shit about this mystery fruit.  It may as well had been durian, and I wouldn't have know the difference other than the smell of burning feet.  But you know what?  I'm glad it wasn't durian, because guava tasted pretty damn good as a footnote to a farmhouse ale. 

ABV: 9.o%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

Okay ... we've got our beer legs.  We're feeling a bit more confident in our surroundings.  We push out our Drink.Well. sampler glasses that we thoughtfully carried along to this fucking hayride.  And then ..

Marrón Acidifié Oud Bruin | The Bruery/Cigar City Brewing | Orange County, CA/Tampa, FL
So, I've been cuckoo for collabs ever since Jordan vs. Bird: One on One that set my 1988 on fire with some early EA Sports goodness.  These breweries aren't exactly the caliber of Michael or Larry -- yet (maybe more like a John Wall vs. Blake Griffin) -- but they are making their free throws and layups at a consistent clip, and this is very apparent with their rather outstanding oud bruin.  From an earlier blog entry, you would know how much I dislike ordinary browns ales -- but this sucker has been double fermented and barrel aged for a year, leaving a sour, leathery flavor that is everything that is the opposite of ordinary.  This stuff is an alley-oop from mid-court that would get the dunker ejected from the game because it made some comments that small children shouldn't hear.

ABV: 8.5%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

After this second tasting -- and keep in mind here, things are going at warp-speed cos everyone's so damn excited to be popping their stashes -- we take a moment to evaluate the dozens and dozens of offerings sitting on the three picnic tables pushed together to accommodate the crowd of fifty-something fatsos.  There are many people casting their arms over other participants hunkering around the wooden benches like reels of ocean fisherman.  Everyone is grabbing, and talking, but no one is listening and no one is certainly laughing about penises.  We are frankly, chugging our stashes just to try to keep up and not miss out on anything marvelous ...

Oro de Calabaza Strong Golden Farmhouse Ale | Jolly Pumpkin Brewing | Traverse City, MI
Ah, shit.  I see my first Michigander.  And its a Jolly Pumpkin.  Win, fuckin win, as I like to say (but not type, as it gets supremely lost in translation -- i guess its just the way I say it that I really like).  I try to look around to see who would have possessed such a fine specimen, and offered its fruits to the thirsty sycophants.  Shit, everyone here looks like they're from Michigan.  Everyone has a beard and a gut.  Even most of the ladies.  Foiled.  But I still salute the imaginary Jolly Pumpkin fan and drink his/her beer.  I gulp it in two swallows.  It is great.

ABV: 8.o%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

Thats when we get to Melissa's and my offering to the masses ...

Bam Bière Saison | Jolly Pumpkin Brewing | Traverse City, MI

See?  See, imaginary Michigan friend?  I brought my Jolly Pumpkin too!  Show yourself, I say.  Let us skylark about the Midwest and revel about the finest square pizzas!  But everyone is too thirsty, and honestly, everyone is too wrapped into some heaver ABV Saisons to make an immediate impact on the table.  That's okay.  Bam is rated in the Top 25 beers in the world, so you all focus on sour collaboration macaroon cupcake pale stouts, while my bride and I sneak off with this bottle right quick. Muahahaha.  

Melissa and I pour full samplers and are happy that we did.  Jolly Pumpkin does not make a bad beer.  Ever.  And this is their flagship.  Want.

ABV: 4.5%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

But as we're having depthless conversation with The Beards, I'm really sticking around because someone has provocatively left this sucker on the table, all biscuit-arsed, like.  No way I'm gonna go out grazing the tables while this hoe is showing me a little leg ...

Consecration Wild Ale | Russian River Brewing | Santa Rosa, CA
... and that's because Consecration is kind of my holy grail -- and is the beer I owe homage to for REALLY kick starting my heart in regards to fine craftsmanship.  I mean, I've always loved beer -- but I wasn't obsessed with seeking it out like i do now until I tasted this serum with Graham in The Mission's Monk's Kettle in San Francisco.  Talk about diving into the deep end.  

That weekend eventually ended in the awesomeness of the gnarliest dining experience in my life at Gamine, where Graham and I murdered what seemed like three dozen escargos, challenged the chef to sear our steaks the rarest that has ever been done in the city (he probably got pretty close), and tried to buy wine and desserts for the Sunday night staff, so that they would drink with us after shutting down the dining room around us.  I think I owe that spectacular weekend to Consecration.

But here I am straying.  The point is, is that this beer not only started my personal craze, but likely the wild sour ale fad that took over a whole industry.  Consecration is aged in Cabernet Savignon barrels with currant added to make it VERY tart and very delicious.  It is some sour-assed shit.  It is also delicious.  I could hardly wait to have Melissa try it, since it, again, completely elusive for we Texans.  I think it blew her mind -- beer that tastes kind of like wine.  If she could incorporate kale somehow, it would be good night moon.

ABV: 10.o%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

Oh, look!  A tall boy!  It could only mean ... 

Coffee Bender | Surly Brewing | Brooklyn Center, MN
Yep.  That's what I suspected.  Someone in an Adrian Peterson home jersey brought this, I'm just sure of it.

I'd tried this one before when Michael Graham from Austin Beerworks hosted a bottle share -- but cans only! -- that I was a part of back before the aluminum revolution.  At that time, I thought Coffee Bender was the kind of beer that set the total accumulative amount of fucks at zero.  But then I had Austin Beerworks Sputnik, a Russian imperial coffee oatmeal stout, and all the sudden, Coffee Bender just tasted like some Costco blend.  In other words, Sputnik drink you!

(And I'm still tasting that burnt chipotle/jalapeno flavor when I'm drinking these coffee beers.  What the fuck is that flavor?  I'm puzzled by it.)

ABV: 5.1%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

Night Stalker Imperial Stout | Goose Island Brewing | Chicago, IL
I'm jumping a bit ahead here -- because I REALLY have got something special to show you, and I'm saving that for the finale -- but this was the final score of the hour-long tour through facial hair, chubby wrists, and high ABV% brews.  At this point, we've probably gulped about two pints of concentrated alcohol in about 45 minutes.  Melissa is talking jive and trying to foot race people -- but not before she finds this, God bless her.  

Goose Island is a wonderful, awesome, cozy, and ... I'll just say wonderful again -- brewery in Chicago that does some magical shit in all varieties of beer.  Their Belgians are outstanding, their bourbon barrel-aged series is fantastic, their vintage reserves are unparallelled, etc etc etc.  I can't talk enough about how awesome it would be if we could get any of their beers in Texas.  It would be a happy moment.  

Night Stalker is as rare as it is impossible to find -- as it is now sucking up their social security pension fund in retirement, playing a little tennis on the Wednesday mornings and staying in their house shoes til noon on Mondays.  Therefore, the fact that Melissa and I got our pour on with this bastard, was pretty special.  Its the closest thing to Deschutes The Abyss that I've tasted since ... Deschutes The Abyss.  And I think I was pretty clear about how I felt about The Abyss.

ABV: 11.7%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

But lets back up a bit, before I give you kids one last money shot of the damage we got did ...

Tactical Nuclear Penguin | Brew Dog Brewing | Fraserburgh, Scotland
That little 12oz unassuming bottle of petrol is none other than the former world-heavyweight beer of the world (also, an ordained minister, author, and casual metal detecting enthusiast) -- Tactical Nuclear Penguin.  The fabled retail price of this beer lies somewhere between the $60-$70 range, and then begins to get absurd on the secondary market.  So, when I get rumor of its immediate availability, I don't know whether to scratch my watch or wind my arse.  There is no way I'm going to miss out on such a stupidly generous offer since I'm not really at the point in my life where i can spend $50-$115 on 12 ounces of anything not labeled Jo Malone or LSD, and especially not on bottles of gimmick beer. 

Well, how did it taste?  

Like a bottle of something containing 32% alcohol and grain.  Mostly like shit at first, then you ease into it.  Then it gets palatable, and finally something approaching decent.  But not $70/good!  TNP was once the world's strongest beer, before some Krauts invented a 40%-er, and then Brew Dog pulled out their dicks again, and made a 41% beer (and then again, with a 55% brew).  But whatever.  The point is, i think, is I'm very glad I got to try it, since the opportunity will likely never arise again. 

So, I thank-you mystery millionaire! 

ABV: 32%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share 

And thank-you BA/Jester King for hosting such a killer party.  See you in a year!

We had to get our team of monkeys on this right away.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale (103) | Spoetzl Brewing | Shiner, TX

Spoetzl's first ale; what an imagination on these brewers.
If you are from Texas, or have friends who are Texans, or maybe passed through I-10 on your way out west for some far reaching dream of being a Hollywood starlet, you have no doubt been goaded into drinking the yellow bellied serum of Spoetzl's flagship beer, Shiner Bock.  Its one of those things, where its not exactly a great beer, or even a Bock at that, but more of an experience.  People in Texas like for all of our dear guests to be saturated in our traditions -- no matter how slight, and Shiner Bock is about somewhere near the top 10 of "oh-you-just-have-to's" that we like to brow-beat people with.  Drinking Shiner Bock is not so much a thirst quencher, or a means to an drunken night on 6th, as it is something we all identified with as our National Beer of Texas -- long, LONG before Lone Star thought up their little marketing artifice.

The truth is, nobody in Texas gave a squirt of piss about drinking Lone Star up until a few years ago, when it arrived with vintage packaging and a subscription to Blender.  Shiner was our home state brew, and we drank it with hunger.

Well, as Shiner Bock devolved into second rate beer -- or at least our palate evolved towards something beyond a 7th graders, we looked outward to other flavors from around the states.  Hell, I see more Miller Lites being swallowed downtown lately than Shiner.  So, what Shiner did was re-imagine something beyond  their staple -- landmark as it was -- and try to lure us all back with their anniversary series.  Since 2005, Shiner has released a series of special brews that pay homage to their Czech/German roots that is so prevalent in Central Texas.  The list looks like this:

Shiner 96 - Marzen Octoberfest
Shiner 97 - Bohemian Black Lager
Shiner 98 - Bavarian Style Amber
Shiner 99 - Munich Style Helles Lager
Shiner 100 - Commemorator Starkbier
Shiner 101 - Czech Style Pilsner
Shiner 102 - American Style Double Wheat Ale

At initial viewing, that looks like an awesome and impressive list -- except that Shiner doesn't exactly brew with inspiration.  Most of these were just macro-brewed sorta "suggestions" of their styles.  While I appreciate the portal they tried to beam up through into the modern era of brewing, many of them just fell very flat.  [Note:  Shiner 97 and Shiner 99 were spectacular and fantastic -- and they made the Bohemian Black Lager a permanent brew on their rotation.  The Shiner 99 recipe, unfortunately, fell into the gimmick that was called Shiner Smokehaus -- a nice brew to try, but terrible for sustained drinking].

I am delighted to report that Shiner 103, the Wild Hare Pale Ale, might have put Spoetzl back in black.  I can now scratch them off my "People to Kill" list and apply my lipstick with blessed relief.

Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale is just the kind of inspired brewing that they've been missing for too many years.  Its Texas hoppy, and by that, its not a mouthful of California-style hopped pales like Sierra Nevada.  Its fruity enough to tame the hopmonster -- something like squishy peaches (a flavor they favor WAAAY too much in their seasonals -- but tread lightly here) and a touch of spice.  Again, its balanced.  Its neither too hopped, too fruity, or too spicy.  Just a pretty damn good effort from a brewer who temporarily lost sight of its target market.  Traditionalists.

ABV: 5.7%
Acquired: Spec's 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Das Wonderkind Wine Barrel Aged Sour Saison | Jester King Brewing | Austin, TX

Das Scheiße
And here is the latest from brewers-savant, Jester King Brewery ... a true farmhouse set in the brush of this fair burg, Austin, Texas.

Now I'm a bit of a Jester King fanboy -- their Black Metal Imperial Stout being one of the highlights of 2011, but their brewing philosophy is such that it would make Jolly Pumkin a proud Jedi to their Patawan learner.  Jester King has made a sour beer that would hold up to the few -- VERY few -- wild ale brewers in the United States.

Das Wonderkind has plenty of the characteristic tart -- maybe immature peaches, bananas, and lemon -- but finishes like a beer that has had time to get settled in -- like that Cheez-Its commercial that I laugh at every time.  Whence, only two months ago, Das Wonderkind was all "Knock Knock", "Who's there" "Interrupting Beer. "Interrupting Bee-" "INTERRUPTING BEEEEEEER LULZ" --  now its asserting, "Good morning sir, beautiful day, isn't it"?

And indeed, with Das Wonderkind, it is.

ABV: 4.2%
Acquired: An Austin bottle store

Sunday, January 22, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Dragon's Milk Oak Barrel Aged Stout | New Holland Brewing | Holland, MI

I first tried Dragon's Milk two Christmases ago in a dank, woodsy, and otherwise awesome townie bar called Paul Revere's in East Lansing, Michigan, which, according to their website serves 16 draft beers, including Bud, Bud Light, Labatt's, and 13 other seasonal micro-brews.

Now, you just gotta love a place that pimps their Macros with size 18 font, but is a bit too bashful to boast about, I dunno, fucking New Holland's Oak Barrel Aged Milk Stout on draft -- as if, in a major beer state like Michigan, the locals just cannot be bothered with that kinda shit, so just ask your server just what the seasonals are and you might find one you enjoy, is that okay?

Yep.  Michigan is so ridiculously enriched with great brewers and their commodities that beers like Dragon's Milk are not as aggrandized as someone in another less-worthy state might be.  Because for all intents and purposes, Dragon's Milk is on par with other barrel aged stouts like Brooklyn Black Ops and Deschutes The Abyss.  And because it was the first ever barrel-aged anything I'd ever tried -- tucked away in a VERY dimly lit bar/grill resembling an old Pelican's, staring at our counterparts 15 feet away at one of those spectacular circular bars that housed someone you can accurately call a Bar Maid, while the snow continued to drive upon itself outside -- its hard to ever consider that this is not my first true Stout crush, despite not being as stacked as The Abyss or as sexy as Black Ops.

ABV: 10.o%
Acquired: Merchant's Fine Wine, Detroit

Friday, January 20, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Oberon Wheat Ale | Bell's Brewing | Kalamazoo, MI

The King of Fairies is an attention whore

Oberon is the King of Fairies from William Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream -- and while that has absolutely no bearing on the actual flavor of this brew, "Oberon" was a far better sounding name than Schmitts Gay.

If you gotta big thirst, and you're gay ...
Anyway.  This beer is basically the first signs of a Michigan Christmas -- and no, it has nothing to do with snow, lake-effect, shovels, snowsuits, Santa, jumper cables, Canadian tuxes to holiday parties, wincing at Southerly Facebook friends status updates, or singing to Bob Seeger's Christmas album.

In fact, it has to do with exactly the opposite of all those things, because the annual Oberon release happens in the first germination of Spring -- and thus, Michiganders anticipate this beer as a sign of a reprieve from indoor Euchre marathons and RoboCop quote-offs -- much like normal people would anticipate our version of Christmas.  Its the beer that launches a thousand-gun salute in Detroit and UP-ers to drop their Faygo in solemn praise.  In other words, its kind of a big fucking deal.

Oberon is a classic American Wheat, and by all standards and measures, should be THE quintessential American beer, if not for those rice-and-other-cheap-fillers sonsa-bitches brewing over at MillerCoors and InBev.  When a person reflects on the summer of '82, it should be with a vague recollection of drinking massive amounts of Oberon while whistling Dixie out of their ass.  Craft beer like Oberon will make American Craft respectable again, and this should be one of the first installments in Her large cache.

Regretfully, it is not "imported" into Texas (although its shipped to Arizona -- the fuck? Fucking Midwest snowbirds, that's why).  So, in hopes of freeing up valuable cargo space on future trips to Michigan with loads of Oberon, hows about you winter-blasted, pasty Fairy Kings move down to the Great State, if only for a few months during the spring?  Kthx.

ABV: 5.8%
Acquired: Didi's Liquor Store, Niles, OH

Thursday, January 19, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale | Boulevard Brewing | Kansas City, MO

KC may smoke second-rate BBQ, but they can sure make a great Saison.
Since the weather here in Austin has been so patio-tacular lately, I decided to break open the coffers the other day and enjoy a Saison -- which in the language of the Frogs, literally means "seasonal" -- as in, check it the fuck out!  Its a damn fine day out for drinking Farmhouse Ales while harvesting these Belgian Chocolates and Dijon Mustards.

This is exactly how Austin currently feels, very harvesty -- sunny and jaunty like an autumn day. 

When I talk about loving Belgians, Saisons are definitively my favorite, and Tank 7 from Boulevard's Smokestack Series is one of my selective choices in this style (BTW, the entire catalog of Blvd Smokestacks have been fucking phenomenal).

The history of Tank 7 goes that a wily fermenter produced this ale on accident, and Boulevard just ran with it; that wily fermenter being Tank 7.  While typical Saisons range in ABV from 2% (see: Jester King for a true farmhouse) to 7%, Tank 7 wallops with a heavy 8% ABV.  Remember, these beers had to allow for farmworkers to make it through the long workday without maiming themselves with sickles and other cool old-timey farm gear -- so Tank 7 probably would have been left off of the beer menu on most 1800s-era Chocolate and Dijon Mustard farms.  And where would be be today if not for those staples?

Tank 7 is extremely carbonated; bottle conditioning being a typical characteristic of a Saison, as they were traditionally brewed in the winter for next-autumn consumption and had to preserve during that duration of time before other preservation methods.   Tank 7 hits right up front with over-ripened grapefruit, barley and a bit of lemon grass.  Hops come near the very end to make Tank 7 one of the most-balanced beer I've yet to taste.

Combined with its venerable bottle shape and vintage labeling, I think Boulevard really nailed the spirit of a true Belgian Saison.  I'm hoping that despite being part of a "series", it is not just a temporary brew.

ABV: 9.o%
Acquired: Spec's 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

[A Beer a Day] 15th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout | Real Ale Brewing | Blanco, TX

In Soviet Russia, stout drink you!

So, I've been trying to horde massive amounts of this RIS lately, because I assume it'll be soo 2011 to sell this, and Real Ale's 16th Anniversary is imminent.  Several things preventing this are: 1) its about $13 for, 2) a 4-pack, and 3) its so fucking delicious!  At 9.4%, it really is a very cellar-able beer, and I particularly love that it comes in 12oz-ers at such a high ABV -- therefore I can drink one here and there, but not commit to a full 750mL bottle.  This should keep pretty well 'til damn near the 19th Anniversary Spinach Wheat Porter (well, one can assume such a beer is in the works at some point)

Real Ale's 15th Anniversary is rich in dark chocolate and malts, but also, with 70 IBUs, presents as a highly hopped beer that traditionally made the looong journey from The UK to the Royal Russian Family, hence the preservatives like high alcohol and substantial hops.  It drinks like a true winter stout, but also has elements of an early springtime iced coffee.  Its one of my favorite things Real Ale does, so grab some if the opportunity presents itself.  Then you'll have something to appease me if I stop by to drink your beer.

ABV: 9.8%
Acquired: Spec's 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Primus Weizenbock | Live Oak Brewery | Austin, TX

This beer cost the lives of ten Mexican nationals.

I didn't realize that I had special privileges at my favorite Local until today, as I handed over my enduring ABW half-growler and petitioned for the familiar barman to fill me up with a beer that is, one, only served in 8oz-ers; two, is just a bit into the three $$$ but worthy of an additional $; and three, on its very last leg of its seasonal release.

For a measly 10 frogs, Draught House felt me up under my shirt with Live Oak's perplexing and evasive Primus -- a beer as mysterious as the woman who insisted she invented the recipe and let us in on that major tidbit while we were out drinking one night on E. 6th St. (She also convinced us that she exploded a Mexican brewery sky-high with a mysterium verum. Does that make sense? No.  But she was adamant, and we were drinking cream ales, thus easily persuaded).

I felt entirely fortunate to be holding this valise, as i slunk back out to the car, after a hearty THANKS DUDE! and out to a waiting wife.  Booty like this makes a car ride home as difficult as taxiing a warm pizza from stainless industrial oven to counter top.

So, we tapped this gangster and felt that the sweet cinnamon, cloves, and bananas were like the 'hood version of Live Oak's spectacular Hefeweizen, except cloaked in darker malts and froth.  It laced until the final sip, concluding that yes,  fuck da po-lice.

ABV: 8.3%
Acquired: Draught House growler

Thursday, January 12, 2012

[A Beer a Day] 2011 The Abyss Imperial Stout | Deschutes Brewing | Bend, OR

I have an 80's-phone-book-sized catalog of source material in the form of beer reviews that I've cobbled together at various points in the past 5 years or so, and today is the day that I tell you about the best beer I've ever tasted.  The grandstander that I am holding in my sizzling skillet right there, is a beer that is made annually, but released only in the final, dying weeks of each year -- and by "released", I mean, very selectively; secretly even, to approximately 30% of the United States.  Even the beer guys at your friendly, neighborhood Spec's hoard them, then reluctantly surrender your two-handed bottle limit as you attempt to recapture your breath after speed walking past the 1992 LSE Land Rover with Colorado plates that parked just before you.

Therefore, a helpful tip is always necessary when seeking The Annual Abyss Release, as word-of-mouth typically has them wiped from the shelves before brunch -- and may God have mercy on your soul if you have a day job.  Fortunately for this release, my little man Enzo hooked it up and got me off the hook for work for three straight post-natal weeks.  Thanks buddy!

Oh, hai!

Anyway, I'm digressing a bit here -- the point is, is that this shit is hard to come by and you have to play guitar at nights to get it.

But when I opened it, all the stresses of whirring around north and central Austin for a vanishing product made it all worth it -- Just imagine the absurdity of stressing about finding beer, right?   After sleuthing for a bit (those Austin corner stores, I tells ya), and gaming some gentlemanly-agreed-upon systems (fuck it, I sent Melissa back to Spec's) -- we were able to squirrel 5 as a familial unit -- whereupon, we quickly drank one, got so excited that we drank another, and put 3 back in cellared stock to become much more impregnated by time and oak.

But then, we took another out and shared it with friends, because, to be shared was to be believed,  And tit for tit, THIS is the best beer of the year.

The taste you ask?  Who fucking cares at this point anyway?  Its both anything and everything.  Drink it, and all your wildest dreams will come true.
ABV: 11.o%
Acquired: Spec's

Monday, January 9, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Sixth Glass Quadrupel Ale | Boulevard Brewing | Kansas City, MO

4 x the fun!

Quads are a special thing as they are a rare style, particularly for an American brewer.  Traditionally, dubels, tripels, and quadrupels were made only by Trappist brewers in West-Central Europe, and spilled over to some of the Abbeys of Germany and Holland.  Quads (and dubels, tripels, respectively) were not necessarily a style -- though, with the inventory of styles in current times,  they could best be compared to Strong Dark Ales -- but are said to be brewed with 4 times the ingredients of a typical ale (or double, or triple, you get the idea).

So, after centuries of perfecting these recipes, it was obvious to say that the Belgian monks pretty much nailed the quad.  But Sixth Glass is not Belgian -- and in fact, is from a midwest brewery so outstanding that I have to rank it somewhere near my top 5 in the country.  Boulevard has paid proper homage to this atypical style by overtly conjuring over-ripe fruits and heavy spices.  Its nice to drink a full-bodied beer that isn't a nut or coffee stout, particularly in this season of stouts and porters.  Not only is it a perfect winter beer, but its that unique touch that could be appropriately enjoyed in any season.  This is a perfect beer. 

ABV: 10.5%
Acquired: An Austin bottle store

Sunday, January 8, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Whiskey Barrel Aged Double Pecan Porter (2011) | (512) Brewing | Austin, TX

All grownds up!

So, I've kept this little beautiful baby cellared for about 10 months and I figured that NYE was just the opportunity to ring-a-ding-ding-ding-dong, particularly since I had the pleasure of pairing with something Jessican as the main-course-protien [that is, dem shawt-ribs].  This could have very well been the rarest thing I've ever had in my cellar, as the bottle was an extremely rare bottle release by one of the Austin brew scene's elder statesman: (512) in south Austin.  It was bottle 297 out of 996 total.  So, shit got real.

The point of the pairing was supposed to be An Executive's Dinner -- fine, slow-roasted meats and late-night cigars and whiskey.  But, since we were planning on enduring until midnight at the very least, whiskey barrel porters would have to be the potion.

I must say that this shit aged masterfully.  There was little-to-no head and zero lacing, mimicking very accurately the very substance it intended to imitate.  The pecan notes were enormous, only to be walloped by the overt oaken grain mash flavor and scent.  It was beautiful and it was worth every second it took obtaining and caring for it.  Thankfully, I still have bottle 233.

ABV: 9.2%
Acquired: Twin Liquors special release

Saturday, January 7, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Nightlight Irish Stout | Circle Brewing | Austin, TX

I picked up this beer from Billy's on Burnet in my dependable 32oz Sputnik growler.  This is made by a newishly-minted (about 8 months old) and relatively nondescript brewery in Austin called Circle Brewing.  They don't do very much advertising at all, and have only released a scattering of draught-only beers.  However, everything that I've tried of theirs is good-to-great and I suppose that it appears that they are mastering their few selections of beers before they go gorillas.

This beer is a very pleasant and welcome change to a style that I've been guzzling by the pail-ful recently -- Stouts -- but Nightlight sheds all of the oatmeal, coffee, chocolate, and raisin fluff, and presents itself as a proper dry Irish stout.  Its pretty wonderful -- as the alcohol content is very low as a true Irish stout should be (4.7%), pours boldly, palates delicately, and is replete with burnt malts and oak-y notes.

Unfortunately, the only way to enjoy this beer the majority of the time is in the pub.  I'm thrilled with all of the start-up breweries in Austin and its surrounding suburban and hill country netting, but I would definitely like to see these micros move into the packaging stage.

ABV: 4.6%
Acquired: Billy's on Burnet growler

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Koko Brown Ale w/ toasted coconuts | Kona Brewing | Honolulu, HI

Aloha! Means, ehh.

I bought a six-pack of this based on the strength of their Coffee Porter, which was the awesomest coffee beer until Sputnik launched a huge rocketship on their asses.  I'm really not a fan of Brown Ales at all.  I find them terribly thin and one-note, and all-around boring.  An exception to this rule is Newcastle Nut Brown Ale, which was my gateway drug into fine-imbibing (and the inspiration for my Engrish footy choice) many, many years ago.  But overall, again, I find Browns to be markedly drab.  I did, however, think that TOASTED COCONUT! would make this brew ace, since coconut has a nice, rich, sweet flavor. 

The problem with Koko Brown is that, erm, there is no coconut flavor. None.  As in, I checked the label again to see if i picked up the wrong thing.  Nope.  Right there on the bottle.  I think that "toasted" coconut was perhaps the wrong choice -- probably put in the kettle during the final stages and got lost in the ferment.  Coconut oils would have been a far superior choice and would have permeated the alcohol.  Instead, as mentioned before -- its comes through as a typical Brown.  Boring, but drinkable.  However, this Orange Bowl between two, bottom-25 ranked teams, makes a perfect pairing.

ABV: 5.5%
Acquired: Spec's

Monday, January 2, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Le Mort Vivant Bière de Garde | Southern Star Brewery | Conroe, TX

Taking a swath of inspiration from my beer nerd/collaborators/partners in beer trading across state lines buddies in AZ -- Whitney and Scott -- I decided to document the very large amount of consumable liquids that I will imbibe this year. Mostly, if they are worthy enough for me to take out my camera phone, check the lighting, angles of the labels, and ignoring the impatient foot-tapping of my drinking partners, then the beer is either Rare, Unusual, Extreme, Seasonal, or Extraordinary -- and thus, worth cawing about. In very isolated cases, a beer will hit the superfecta, and sweep all the categories. Here is hoping that 2012 brings at least one of those.

This beer is from Southern Star Brewery in Conroe, TX, just outside of Houston. It is a seasonal Bière de Garde, which is essentially a farmhouse saison, but way cooler sounding.

Because it is named so charmingly, the natural inclination is to taste it the same way; that is rustic and malty, with huge notes of honey and subtle flavors of pome fruits, like apples, or what French people call apples: pears.

I'm a fan -- particularly since the beer is probably under or around 5% ABV and an excellent session beer -- not to mention syrupy, yet bright.

ABV: Unknown
Acquired: An Austin bottle store

This was my New Year's resolution ...

Pretty ambitious, amirite?

I'll probably talk about what everyone else talks about: mundane shit with an outside shot of accidental wit, which personally revolves around the subjects of beer, lad rock, and how much Tim Tebow resembles a choad.

Single fucks you should give: 0

But you should read this anyway since this weblog has sat dormant since I created it FIVE years ago in Copper Star Coffee Shop, then was mightily distracted by a strawberry cream cheese cupcake -- back before cupcakes were contemporary desserts baked only for the Proletariat. Now, cupcakes are only handed out to the bourgeoisie hanging out below bridges with Pitbull and his Diet Dr Pepper crew.